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</script></div>{/googleAds}British TV director David Yates takes the helm in the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, with Michael Goldenberg adapting the script. While the duo does an admirable job of capturing the dark and damnable spirit of Rowling's boat anchor of a book, they really only come off as little more than simple caretakers of the franchise. In their Herculean attempt to pare down the 700+ page novel, huge meaty chunks were barely touched upon or skipped over entirely, leaving what feels like a stepping-stone towards something much bigger. And pity the poor Harry Potter newbie that might wander in hoping to catch up on "Potter" mania!

Despite revealing a character-defining crossroads for Harry (Daniel Readcliffe), nothing new really happens here and almost no major characters are introduced as Harry continues his face-off with the devilish Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) who, as was revealed in the last episode, is back on the warpath. Returning are Harry's best friends and biggest supporters, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) as well as most of the supporting cast of major and minor characters. But, even though Harry's struggle with Voldemort is the emotional center of the film - and takes up about three-fourths of the plot - when the proceedings finally come to an end, we're pretty much at the same point in their relationship we were at the beginning. But there's still enough other stuff going on to entertain casual and even non-fans.

As the film opens, Harry finds himself under inquisition in front of a kangaroo court of followers of the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, for having illegally used magic to fend off a couple of evil dementors. But thanks to Albus Dumbledore, who testifies in Harry's defense, his return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will go on as planned.

What happens next is slightly more than 2 hours of angst, rejection, and apprehension displayed by Harry as he finds himself in the middle of a stubborn Hogwarts that refuses to even entertain his idea that He Who Shall Not be Named has returned. In fact, to dispel Harry's claims, the school has pushed Dumbledore aside in favor of the delightfully pink Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), who takes it upon herself to return the institution to a very proper and orthodox way of teaching. In other words, she hopes to discredit Dumbledore and seize control of the school in the name of the ministry. Staunton's Umbridge is a much-welcomed breath of fresh air in a sea of darkness and despair. Her pink outfits do little to hide her sinister intentions, and Staunton plays her character's complexity to a T. Under her reign of ignorance, Harry must take it upon himself to train the students for Voldemort's impending return, thus completing his arc from student to teacher.

It's not until Voldemort and his legion of deatheaters do battle against our heroes that Order finally takes off and gains flight in a raging whirlwind of shooting flames and warring wizards. We finally get to see the power and fury these wizards are able to inflict with their twiggy little wands. Seeing these guys finally wage war brings the same level of excitement we experienced when we first saw a crippled and aging Yoda square off with his light saber against Count Dooku in Episode II. We knew the young wizards weren't being trained to lift objects in mid air all day!

For all the delight the Harry Potter series of films have brought to millions, there's one asset that has been slowly disappearing and is almost nonexistent in Order of the Phoenix. There was always a sense of amazement and wonder as the magic of Rowling's tales came to life on the screen. Watching Harry disappear into the bricks on platform No. 9 ¾ was an incredible moment in the series, as was the sorting hat, the moving newspaper photos, the animated paintings on the wall, and even the floating candles in the dining hall of Hogwarts. But now those wide-eyed magical moments are nearly gone, replaced by plot intricacies, character complexities, and the struggle to get the series finished before the Potter kids have children of their own and start smoking cigarettes.

I don't fault Yates and Goldenberg for what Order of the Phoenix doesn't deliver. It's all me. Shame on me for wanting the whimsy and imagination back. It used to be fun and entertaining to watch the flourishes of Rowling's imagination unfold on the screen. Now it's miserable work.


DVD Details:

The 2-Disc Special Edition DVD contains the following special features:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; French

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; featurettes; documentaries and more.

* A&E Documentary: The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter - Viewers take a thrilling look back at the past Harry Potter films in search of clues to the mysteries of the upcoming Harry Potter saga.
* Additional Scenes - 17 minutes of never-before-seen footage.
* Featurettes
o Trailing Tonks (19 minutes) - Spend a day with Actress Nat Tena and receive a very personal and often wacky tour of the Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix stages.
o Harry Potter and the Magic of Editing (5 minutes) - Director David Yates and Editor Mark Day show what a difference a good edit makes to allow the viewers to edit a scene.
* DVD-ROM extras - This will include a timeline, a link to sneaks of HP6, along with other materials.

Number of discs: - 2- Keepcase Packaging